Wednesday, November 24, 2010


What with tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I decided last week on a rather unoriginal idea: to write a list of things I'm thankful for.

That said, I am thankful for:

1. Teresa, our almost 8-year old daughter, who told me a couple weeks ago, “Daddy, today I learned the difference between perfect and imperfect contrition” – and then proceeded to explain said difference in a way that would surely have satisfied even St. Thomas Aquinas.

2. Cecilia, our 6-year old daughter, who already has way, way more artistic talent than I have, allowing her to create neat pictures like this:

3. Lucy, our 5-year old daughter, who loves to sing along as loudly as she possibly can to the soundtrack of Annie.

4. Joe, our 3-year old son, who always seems happy and who seems to make everybody else he sees happy too.

5. Anthony/A.J., our 19-month old son, whose willingness to climb most anything causes me to think he’s destined for many fearless pursuits throughout life.

6. That all of our children’s godparents are exemplary role models who pray for them every day.

7. Our new baby, due in April.

8. That all of us are in relatively good health.

9. Jocelyn, who is, well, just an awesome wife.

10. Jocelyn, who is, well, just an awesome mom.

11. A job I absolutely love.

12. A modest home in a decent neighborhood.

13. Two motorcars that are paid for, one of which, given to us by one of my brothers 10 years ago, still runs just fine.

14. The speech therapists I met with (after being picked up by the short bus) a few times a week from kindergarten through second grade who helped me overcome a significant stuttering habit.

15. The many great teachers I’ve had throughout my life.

16. The time I spent teaching from 2000-2004.

17. A family and extended family (on both my side and Jocelyn’s) in which – more or less – everybody gets along.

18. Chicago-style pizza.

19. The writings of G.K. Chesterton.

20. Countless good friends.

21. Loving and supportive parents.

22. Having had the chance to study in Rome for four months in 1997.

23. Having grown up in a home in which neither money nor food was wasted, which very much helped me to learn the proverbial “value of a dollar.”

24. Having grown up in Minnesota, as a result of which I know that the proper way to play the game is “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” – not the silly, ridiculous apology known as “Duck, Duck, Goose”.

25. Our local parish – St. Odilo – a mere four blocks from our house, where the Tridentine Mass is offered every Sunday.

26. St. John Cantius, our “other” parish – where, on any given Sunday, three or four priests hear confessions before (and during) Mass, so that wretched, habitual sinners like me are able, as often as we need, to bare our souls to someone who really and truly does have the power to forgive them.

27. Far more than I could possibly hope to include in a list like this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tom Morrison is a Mensch

He's forgoing his pension:

Newly elected state Rep. Tom Morrison raised some eyebrows Tuesday during freshmen legislators’ orientation in Springfield when presented with paperwork to join the General Assembly’s lucrative pension system.

That’s because he opted out -- a move officials can recall happening just once before.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” one administrator asked him.

The 35-year-old Palatine Republican, who succeeds six-term state Rep. Suzie Bassi in the 54th House District, realizes that forgoing his pension won’t make a dent in the state’s $13 billion deficit or $80 billion unfunded pension liability.

But Morrison says he’s a proponent of self-sacrifice and leadership by example, and he wasn’t willing to become a financial burden on a system he wants to overhaul.

The district Tom represents is the one in which Jocelyn grew up (and where her parents still live). I know him personally, and he's a heckuva guy.

Oh, and if you're wondering how the State of Illinois came to be saddled with an $80 billion unfunded pension liability, the article goes on to provide some clue:

After four years in office -- the amount of time it takes to become vested -- a current legislator becomes eligible to receive a pension of 12 percent of his salary, along with 3 percent increases if retiring after age 60.

That pension payout spikes to 27 percent of salary after eight years of in office, 45 percent after 12 years of service and finally the maximum 85 percent after 20 years.

Can you say "unsustainable"?

Another clue is here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"They Scribbling Eels and Guilder Floor"

Periodically, I receive e-mails written in Dutch.

I presume these messages are the result of a data entrant somewhere in the Netherlands mistyping the e-mail address of someone else named Jansen, with the result being that this other Jansen's e-mails are coming to me instead.

I can usually make out a handful of words in each message. (For instance, I'm guessing that "Geachte heer Jansen" means "Dear [Greetings?] Mr. Jansen".) But that's about it.

Out of curiosity, I pasted the text of one of these e-mails into the Dutch to English Yahoo Babel Fish translator.

Being the Yahoo Babel Fish translator, it's almost entirely worthless. But I did have to chuckle at the syntax in the translated message.

Here's the original e-mail:

Geachte heer Jansen,

Hierbij per mail de bevestiging van uw aanmelding als lid van de Vereniging van Vrienden van Sonsbeek, Zijpendaal en Gulden Bodem. U bent nu ook één van de ca. 600 leden die de parken in Arnhem Noord een goed hart toedragen en daarmee bijdragen aan het behoud en verfraaiing van deze parken. Leuk dat u naast lid van de Vereniging Vrienden van HGO Vriend van de parken bent geworden!

Ik heb uw naam en adres etc. genoteerd op de ledenlijst. Hartelijk dank voor de door u reeds betaalde contributie! U kunt daarom gratis het boekje over de IJskelder in park Sonsbeek bij het Bezoekercentrum Sonsbeek afhalen! Of bent u daartoe niet in de gelegenheid? In dat geval wil ik het u wel toezenden.

Met vriendelijke groet,
J.Theo Bussink

Here's how the Yahoo Babel Fish translator rendered it:

Dear lord Jansen,

By mail the affirmative of your application such as member of the association of friends of Sonsbeek, they scribbling eels and guilder floor. YOU are now also one of the approx. 600 members who the parks in Arnhem North a good bears heart and with that contributes to the conservation and decorating of these parks. Nicely that you have become beside member of the association friends of HGO friend of the parks!

I have noted your name and address etc. on the member list. Thank you very much the contribution already for by you paid! For this reason YOU can take away for free the notebook concerning the IJskelder in park Sonsbeek at the visitor centre Sonsbeek! Or aren't you to this end in the occasion? In that case I want transmit it you, however.

Kind regards,
J.Theo Bussink